TURN­ING JA­PANESE

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Fully un­der­stand­ing Ouen­dan’s sto­ries re­quires a trans­la­tion guide, but the game is hugely im­port-friendly. Comic-book pan­els tell you all about the task at hand, and tu­to­ri­als rely more on vis­ual in­struc­tions of the game’s sys­tems than tex­tual ones. The one likely stum­bling block is the dif­fi­culty se­lect; the first op­tion launches Easy mode, and Ouen­dan is a bet­ter game the harder it gets, with its greater num­ber of hit mark­ers a bet­ter fit for the sound­track. The dif­fi­culty modes are as non­tra­di­tional as the game it­self. Easy mode is called Light-Heart­edly Cheer, Nor­mal is Boldly Cheer, and Hard is Fer­vently Cheer. Com­plet­ing the lat­ter un­locks Grace­fully Cheer – an odd name for a mode that has smaller mark­ers and se­verely pun­ishes mis­takes, at least un­til you start it and see that your male squad has been swapped for a trio of pom­pomwav­ing cheer­lead­ers.

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